Mama, Free Your Hands for What Matters

Eli&me2001

I’m not a mover and a shaker.  I start and stop.  Start and stop.  I think it’s time I just own up to that and accept it.  I want to think it is going to change.  Like life is just going to open up at some point and I will SHOW UP in all my glory.  And there it is – perfection – rearing it’s ugly head once again.  No.  THIS is me showing up.  And it is not perfect.  Not even close – and that is the beauty.  I continue to learn to take it easy on myself – to realize in all ways – that I AM ENOUGH.

When I am not moving and shaking on the page – or in my business – it is because I am showing up in my life.  It’s not that I don’t want to share – or encourage others with what is going on in my life.  Not. At. All.  In fact, those are the times I want to reach out with my words the most.  But, in my circumstance, there are others involved.  Others who want privacy.  Others who need room to breathe and NOT have me “blabbing.”  It’s important that I listen – especially when the “other” is one of my children.

“I believe in radical authenticity – speaking your truth – telling your story – and learning from the doing AND the telling.”

My dilemma.  This puts me in an odd position because, I believe in radical authenticity – speaking your truth – telling your story – and learning from the doing AND the telling.  I have felt shushed for quite awhile now.  Halted from talking about the very thing that is testing me and shaping me in ways I never imagined.  Halted from writing about something I know many in recovery share in.  I have been holding on for dear life.  Visual: Body wrapped around a pole –  holding tight to the rope the connects my teen and myself – like an umbilical cord he wants to cut himself – to be free of me – and then at times returning to me with the softness of a 3 year old.  Needing me.  He’s suffering.  Struggling.  This has been one of the hardest segments of my life – if not THE hardest, and that is saying A LOT.

“And then I flash back to the grip I had on booze, drugs, cigarettes, unhealthy relationships. perfectionism – and all of a sudden I feel healthier than ever in my gripping and hair tearing…  This is what I am here to do.”

I will hold on.  Like a dog with a bone.  Hold on with one hand – while ripping my hair out with the other.  I don’t think my grip has ever been tighter.  And then I flash back to the grip I had on booze, drugs, cigarettes, unhealthy relationships. perfectionism – and all of a sudden I feel healthier than ever in my gripping and hair tearing…  This is what I am here to do.  This is what my hands are now free for.

What I am here to do.  Loosen the grip on the shit doesn’t matter and cling to the beauty and love that does.

Carry on, Mama.

Love.  Learn.  Recover.

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Accept. Lessons. Faith.

I was supposed to clean house all day.

Had to drive E to school.  Returned home with B.  Played 15 minutes worth of the promised game o’ Chutes and Ladders – quickly got him dressed for the bus.  Was running out the door with the backpack and dog on a leash when I received a text from one of E’s friends who was very late – and needed a ride to school.  I can never resist.

Got B on the bus and hopped in the car.  As I drove – I thought about how I am not taking care of myself.  How I tell clients to care for themselves, and I am consciously NOT doing that – and that maybe, just maybe, that’s f’d up.  Got all confused, and started thinking of a friend I was walking with last Fall – before busy-ness and my shoulder injury brought everything to a screeching halt.  How I needed to contact her.  I needed to walk.  I needed to see her – and laugh with her.  Yes.  And for today – I decided I would take some pictures – because that is what I told myself I would do today.  I’d take some lovely pics – because it’s one of the things I LOVE to do.  It only takes one glance at my phone gallery to see the passion I have for photography.  One day I will have a fancy schmancy camera.  For now – I use a phone.  🙂  And today – for me – I would make my gallery just that much fuller.

So – anyway – I am driving.  I am thinking all of these things.  Reminding myself that there is no true balance in mothering but that I should at least jump on my side of the scale – that that would be enough – just keep myself in mind – as I look for work and do my Momming and my writing and my coaching…  My mind is whirling with “keep with the acceptance of what IS.  Keep doing your work.  Keep the faith.  It’s working out for the best for all concerned.”  I come around a bend – and Bam!

Accept_Life_Lessons_Faith

There is this.  Yeah.

Now, I have seen this before – many times – but I’d almost swear it used to say something different.  I keep driving – gotta get the girl to school – but I tell myself I am coming back for a picture after I drop her off.  I drop her off – and decide to drop in B’s elementary and pay for his student ID.  This is important because of a timing synchronicity that is coming up.  Stick with me.

Now I am back on the road.  I get to the sign.  I pull over.  I get out. I’m walkin’ all around – trying to get an angle.  It’s a long-arse sign, right?  Cars come by, and I feel a little embarrassed taking a picture of the sign.   Not sure why I feel embarrassed – I just do.  So – you know – I’m acting like I’m looking for something – kicking the dirt around – waiting for them to drive past.

Then – I realize – Hey – there’s panorama on the camera.  Yeah!  I’m gonna Pan-O-Rama this puppy.  But, you know – when you panorama – it takes time.  And – each time I’d get it going – here’d come another car around the bend.  I was starting to get a little perturbed.  Then I was perturbed at myself for being perturbed.  Then – just about the time I get myself calmed down – chilled out – camera ready – here comes a bicyclist around the bend.  It’s on an incline.  The bike is moving SO SLOW – to me, of course.  I’m not the one peddling up the hill right?  But on the INSIDE – I’m like.  REALLY?  WTF!  What does it take to get a pic of this sign?  Then I look at the sign again.  I say to myself,  “Accept, as it is.”  I walk around my car – to the passenger side.  I open the door – grab my travel mug of coffee.  I take a sip – then lean my head against the door jam.  I can see the sign and the bicyclist through the drivers window on the other side of the car.  I take a deep breath and wait.  I’m breathing deep.  I am still.  The cyclist is working hard.  I see a profile – and then she glances at me – only with her eyes.

Eye contact.

It’s the woman I was thinking I needed to walk with as I approached the sign the FIRST time this morning.  Yep.

Synchronicity, baby.

That’s what I’ve got.

Peace out.

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Lightening the Load

Hi Mom –

I spun out on a SpEd tangent in the few days after I last wrote to you. I couldn’t put it in a letter. It’s one of those things I so badly wish I could pick up the phone and talk to you about as it’s going down.

I have a dear friend who has stepped up in that – the listening. Yesterday – she brought a reading to my attention that I would like to share with you today. We’d both read it before, but it struck her differently this time and – in light of where I have been lately with who I am and where my passions lie – she thought of me. I know you will get it – as she gets it – as I get it. She shared it in the middle of the day yesterday. The strange thing was that I had saved a yin-yang nautilus shell to my desktop just the day before. I have also seen – through my writing – that I have indeed laid my past to rest – but that who I am today was fed by it – was brought to life by it. There is a strength in me – and a buoyancy – that wouldn’t exist had it not been for the past. Of that I am certain.

Speaking of the past… Yesterday was September 16th. Your brother has been gone 7 years. It’s really hard to believe. B was in my belly when he passed. E was present – as an 8 year old – for my last phone conversation with him. I remember E consoling me as clear as day. My explaining that we would not see him again on this earth. He is missed. As are you. We planted a black walnut tree out back – added his ashes to the earth – had a beautiful ceremony when the family was here for John and my wedding. Dustin dug the hole. Memories seared in my brain. Me falling into the hole – that John had moved Ron’s perfect marker stone from – as we walked out to do the ceremony. I didn’t know that was where he’d found it. The grass was all long. It was fluke that I fell in there. I could hear Ron laughing with all of us when I asked where that hole came from and John told me. Actually – I can hear him laughing now. The stone is by the garden gate – not the tree. It’s not engraved, but I know what it is. It’s Ron’s rock. I hold faith that your souls hooked up on the other side.

So yeah – strength and buoyancy through being what you’ve been at different points in time. Buoyancy as you move forward into whoever you are in the present.

Here is the reading. It’s from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening.

September 16

Where We’ve Been

I have been born again and again

and each time,

     I have found something to love.

~ Gordon Parks

Our ability to find something to love, and to love again for the first time depends greatly on how we resolve and integrate where we’ve been before. A great model for us exists in the chambered nautilus, an exquisite shell creature that lives along the ocean floor. The nautilus is a deep-sea form of life that inches like a soft man in a hard shell finding his prayers along the bottom. Over time it builds a spiral shell, but always lives in the newest chamber.

The other chambers, they say, contain a gas or liquid that helps the nautilus control its buoyancy. Even here, a mute lesson in how to use the past: live in the most recent chamber and use the others to stay afloat.

Can we, in this way, build strong chambers for our traumas: not living there, but breaking our past down till it is fluid enough to lose most of its weight? Can we internalize where we’ve been enough to know that we are no longer living there? When we can, life will seem lighter.

It is not by accident that the nautilus turns its slow digestion of the bottom into a body that can float. It tells us that only time can put the past in perspective, and only when the past is behind us, and not before us, can we open enough and empty enough to truly feel what is about to happen. Only by living in the freshest chamber of the heart can we love again and again for the first time.

I can tell you, Mom. It’s taken a LONG time to break that stuff down. In doing so – I realize that’s just what you were doing when you were my age – especially in those last few years. Breaking it down so you could break free from yourself from it. I know you were – because life together in those last years just got lighter and lighter.

I built on what I learned from you – in many, many ways. I can say that now without idolizing you –  without making myself seem like less than you or an extension of you. That took some time, too.

For the most part, I have learned to “live in the most recent chamber and use the others to stay afloat.”  All good on the past front.

Right now – though – there is not work for me (outside of the home). I need more hours in this – my most recent chamber. Been looking, been writing, been networking. Could you pull some strings with God and the universe – the powers that be? I’m keeping the faith with all the 1111s and Dang – the 222’s. I woke up at 2:22 two nights in a row this week. Just sayin’… I’m listening.  I’m praying, but I don’t know what the next step is.

I keep going back to this https://herpassionjournal.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/i-am-here/ “Follow your heart. There will be an eye watching over you and a hand to guide you.” Remember? Yeah. I’m doing that, but it’s getting a little scary over here. Wanting some guidance.

Keeping the faith. It’s working out the best for all concerned.

I will just keep on keepin’ on with the following of my heart.

I know you and the crew are watching over me.

I’m just feeling a little lost, and I am confused about what the next step is.

I love you so.

Suz

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Tiger Mom

I may miss things. Things that I thought were important.  Brace yourself.  This is a LONG one.  Go potty and grab yourself something to drink.  If I knew how to tag my posts – the tags would be Aspergers – Special Education – Dyslexia – Dysgraphia – and Reducing Barriers to Education.  Mmm.  Yeah.  Let’s throw in Recovering Mom – because – honestly – this is another one of those moments where I just have to say to myself,  “Self – it’s not all about you – in fact – very little is about you.”  Smiling.

Case in point – the prompt for this post – I am missing my 30th reunion. I was to fly out one week from tomorrow. I was taking the time and going alone. I bought a ticket in June. I was going to be able to see two friends who have cancer while I was there and meet up with one of my coaching clients face to face. I was going to stay a night with my Dad and brother and go to the Homecoming game. I was going to swim – extend the summer by 4 days – and relax. I bought a ticket for the main event on Saturday night. I was going to get to hug all of these people that I am on social media with but haven’t seen in 30 years. This was to be my first reunion EVER. Crap. Just a couple tears. Been there. Done that. Deep sigh. It is what it is. This is IT and That is That. I’m where I am supposed to be.

Thing is – I found out just recently that E’s High School Open House falls on the night I was to fly out. I’ve been trying to figure out a way that I could feel comfortable leaving – and I just can’t. There is no way around it. I will stay home. Yeah. That decision making process sucked. I’m getting over the sadness but the disappointment lingers. There is also a bit of anger. Anger that the system or process within the school was so awful the last three years that I feel I can’t miss my kid’s Open House for a fear of loss of information. It’s hard to get a meeting with the SpEd teachers. Really hard. So I feel my only way to get information is to show up on nights they are giving out the info so that I can form my questions carefully for when I do get in for the meeting. This is maddening. The game. And that is what it is – a maddening game.

I am getting better at the game all the time. I was played the last three years. Hoop. Hoop. Hoop. Now I know the hoops, and I am on the fast track. This hoop-jumping bullshit – well – that will be done within 3 weeks. Through past experience and incredible synchronicities, I know where I need to be and when. Thing is – if I (and the coalition that is forming) win THIS game – the PRIZE is kids having a better chance at a successful future after high school. I am one of the only people who sees what could go down beyond high school if our kids don’t get the support they need. That’s because I‘ve seen it firsthand.

What could (and does) happen is crippling depression. What could (and does) happen is addiction and suicide and adults who never move out of their parents’ homes – or return home in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s because they can’t make it in the outside world. If they don’t have parents to go home to – they could end up on the street. This is not just about graduating high school. It’s not about JUST getting a high school diploma. Because we know – for decades – kids with dyslexia and dysgraphia have been graduated from high school and sent out into the world thinking they had what it takes to be successful. It’s a lie, and it is cruel. Again – firsthand – I have seen the fallout.

The population of kids that I am talking about does not have severe cognitive deficits. These kids are whip-smart, creative and funny. They are on the autistic spectrum. They have attended social skills classes once or twice a week for the last 5 years for their spectrum behaviors.  My boy has been through extensive therapy outside of school. He has come SO far. I was told this past summer – by a tutor – that there was no resistance to learning – that behaviors are not getting in his way right now – that at this point it is all about his dyslexia/dysgraphia. THAT is his hold up – and there are tools for that. E helped get the school a sizable sum of money for the tech budget by standing before the board (his shy Aspie self) and explaining how much Dragon Naturally Speaking had changed the way he saw and functioned in school. He said he finally saw himself as a writer.  Tear-jerking moment.  As a little guy who could barely read – it took him – and his teacher – a  long time to get that Dragon trained.  They stuck with it because they could both see the pay-off.  E and the teacher thought and We (his parents) were told – and we could see – that it was all worth it, because that tool would move with him – that that was HIS to keep using. It didn’t happen that way. It was taken away before he ever entered the middle school.  He didn’t stand a chance.

These kids have gifts. They need be honed. It’s all about decreasing barriers to education and teaching our kids how to use their gifts to be functioning/contributing members of society. There is speech-to-text and text-to-speech. There is Dragon Naturally Speaking and apps galore. There are smart white boards in classrooms that let kids move and see things big and be hands-on. There are Word Shapes that help with syntax. Notes can be copied off of the teachers’ Power Points instead of students having to put all that energy into trying to make their hands write.

We have a new high school that is filled with the tools that could be – and I’m hoping will be – used. They were available at his Middle School. Why the resistance to using them? And remember – I’m not talking Gen Ed. Why the resistance? The SpEd teacher didn’t want to use them so she just – didn’t. That is where it all falls apart. She’s been doing this awhile, and she is unwilling to change it up. Those above her support her. It seems as though everyone is refusing to look at how one senior teacher’s stubbornness – to keep things the same – is actually destructive to future lives.

Really – this is about empowering our teachers in growth – and not accepting stagnation. What they are doing isn’t working. E’s writing skills did not improve – in any significant way – in the 3 years he was there even though he was on the fast track of improvement as he exited elementary. Dragon was helping him skyrocket. This is about expecting the teacher to do the right thing with this at-risk population. I get the resistance – to a certain extent – but not to this extent. Money comes with these kids’ diagnoses. Use it for ALL the kids. Get and use the right tools. The tools – once implemented – will make the teachers lives easier and their students’ futures more promising – but only if they are willing to move forward. There really shouldn’t be an option. Should there? This comes down to a couple of people not wanting to change – so they just say – flat out, “We don’t do that,” even though it’s on the IEP. One person saying, “It’s just Middle School. He’ll be fine.”

So – yeah – I’m watching like a hawk. I got AMAZING response from two of his GenEd teachers just today (one next-day, one same-day). They were thankful that I reached out – and totally want to work with E. I am so used to being ignored by the SpEd teachers that this shocked me – just like when his Science teacher and Healthy Living teacher wanted to work with him in his 8th grade year. It shocked me. How is it that THEY are so willing to communicate and accommodate and SpEd just would not. Where do I stand with SpEd right now? I sent an email August 31 – saying that I wanted to meet in the first week of school to make sure supports are in place. It’s been over two weeks – no response. Zero. Zilch.

How am I supposed to feel comfortable getting on a plane next week? Can not. Just can’t. I’m grieving it. Just a little now. I’m past the shock, though. I know what I need to do, and I am feeling good about it. I think I am actually starting to just be okay with my role right now. We are in transition. I am needed here. I’ve come to a place where I just know that this is what I do. This is what I am here for in this moment – to support and advocate for my kids (I signed up to be the Tiger Cub Mom last week – fitting – don’t you think?).

So, yeah, support my kids – Be a partner to my husband (whom I adore) – Write. This isn’t forever. Hey-what’s four years, right? Just kidding. I sure as heck hope I’m not having to work this hard at it 4 years out.  The thought of “Me” at the end of THAT scares me.  Cuz this stuff sucks you up.  So I’m not going to let it. I’m just doing my job.  It’s a super important one. The job morphs. This is the work at hand. I’m doing it, and I’m really, really good AT it.

AND, even more importantly – I am good WITH It. Yep.

Onward.

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Dancing on Shifting Ground – Part II

So – No – I am not depressed (anxious – yes – depressed – no). My desire and passion for life are not slipping away. I am not getting old (older – sure – OLD – no).

My passions are shifting.

The fact of the matter is – when my passion is lit – it burns HOT.

Right now I am running hot as an advocate for my Dyslexic kiddo – as he tries to navigate his first year in high school. Fact of the matter is he was not set up for it – at all – in middle school – despite my strong advocacy. He’s floundering – trying to get organized and figure out which way is up without the support he needs within the classroom. There is no real communication between the middle school and high school. There were no transitional meetings with the parents or the students. It’s a mess. The good news is – there IS new blood in the LRC. This is my highest hope right now – that the new teacher will truly look at these students and SEE them for all that they are. I WANT to help. I don’t want to be held at arms’ length. Parents of kids with learning difficulties need to be let in. If we want to help, let us. Communicate with us. Don’t ignore us. I want E to succeed. He has the potential. I want those who come after him to have what they need to succeed. There are four of these kids heading to the middle school right now. They are leaving elementary armed with the tools they need to succeed in middle school (so was E). They are armed with speech-to-text. I am hoping that what happened to E – does not happen to them. That would be the taking away of the tool and stagnation on many levels – mainly writing – which ends up dumbing down their progress in Gen Ed classes.  I am fighting for continuity between the three schools in our district – to make these kids transitions go smoothly. I am also fighting for technology that has been proven to work repeatedly for this population – at the elementary level. I want them to benefit from this awesome tool moving forward in their education and life. There is no reason that couldn’t happen. I’m in. All in. On fire.

I am also undeniably passionate about helping women, teens and families in recovery. The big one? Moms. Moms in recovery. Recovery from drugs and alcohol, yes, but also recovery from life in general. We are all recovering from something. When we look inside, we know it’s true. The support needed to keep it together for your kids while learning how to survive and not numb yourself out is HUGE – and I went to school – both an institute and the school of life – to be an ally to women walking that path. I am uniquely qualified.  I love where I am going with my work. I am building a practice.  It takes time and energy. It takes Passion.

This segues into the mothering of my 6 year old. I get to be a mom to this one with over a decade of recovery and therapy behind me. I get to mother this one with confidence I never could have imagined as a mother to E when he was this age. I get to mother this one heading into my 50’s – without all the insecurities and perfectionism that haunted me 8, 12, 15, 30 years ago. How awesome is that? Fire lit. Passion burning.

Yeah. There’s passion there. Lots. You have to look just beneath the surface, though. I guess passion can take on many disguises. In this case – looking at me – especially to those who’ve known me in the past as a gardening, outdoorsy, healthy-food eating and cooking Mama – this passion could be disguised as depression – with its messiness and weediness and tiredness and weight gain.

Interesting.

It’s not depression. I know JUST what that looks like. Yep. It comes down to something so simple.   There’s just no fire left for cooking and gardening and hiking – all the self-care I would like. There’s just not enough of me to fuel all of those passions, too. Nope. Just a quick flame here and there to remind me that I still love each of them – even the thought of them – that they are each a part of me – that they help make up the whole of me – and that they will still be there – waiting for me – if and/or when I return.

No shame in that.

Nope.

Deep breath.

THIS is IT

This is It – and I am It – and you are It- and so is That – and He is It – and She is It – And It is It –

And That is That

O It is This – and It is Thus – and It is Them – and It is Us – and It is Now – and here It is – 

and here we are –

So This is It

~James Broughton

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Dancing on Shifting Ground – Part I

My six year old has been home sick and my sweet Aspie kiddo (who just entered high school) ran into homework challenges studying for a quiz. That trumps the blog challenge. I will still hit 30 in 30 – but right now – I know where my priorities lie. I also know that I am tired. So tired that I am in a fog. So tired that just the thought of the load of laundry in the dryer and the sink full of dishes and the bills that need to be written – make my heart race with anxiety. I want to do nothing in this moment, because I have been doing everything all day. It’s 10:30, for God’s sake. One should be doing nothing at this hour – except for writing. This is a good hour for writing – or reading. I think I just talked myself out of the laundry and dishes.

Black or white – love them or me? Where is the grey? Hmmm. The grey gets lost in motherhood – I think. No – I know. The kids don’t have a choice of being sick or not – or needing help reading the funky-ass scanned copy of a text book on the monitor – because that would be hard to study from – even if he wasn’t dyslexic – but he is – and you know what? It’s my job to help him. Period. It’s my job to hold the tissue for my 6 year old and find him something for his chapped lips and make sure he drinks water – oh and to snuggle with him under a blanket as much as I can when he asks – so I can hold his head and let him cool his hot little hands on my cool skin. Yep. That’s my job. I wear many hats – but the number 1 – most important hat is my Mom Hat. I’m trying to visualize what said Mom hat would look like. Hmmm.

What I am beginning to realize is that this thing that I do – this mothering. This Momming. This is way more than my job. It is actually one of my passions. It is actually my greatest passion. I just happen to be doing it at 48. And my mothering needs to be a little (okay – a lot) more hands on than many mothers of freshmen in high school – and it’s just going to be that way for awhile. I came to a realization today that This is It. And that is that. And it’s okay. As maddening as it is at times – and believe me – it’s downright – Mother Flippin’ maddening at times –BUT as maddening as it can be – it’s super flippin’ awesome that the powers that be hooked me up with these two. And that reason is – I happen to be best for this particular job.  In other words – sure I need self-love breaks – but this gig I’ve got?  It’s awesome.  These kids.  They’re awesome.  I can not imagine my life with out them.

Up until right now – today – I have found myself saddened by my decreasing passion for gardening, hiking, cooking and health. These were all true passions – just last year.  Oh – I still love these things – but I’m not driven to do them right now – and so – I have found myself wondering if there isn’t something wrong with me. Am I depressed? Am I slipping away? Am I just getting old?

The answer is no – to all of these things.

A HUGE switch was flipped today.

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Helping our Teachers Help our Aspies

Dear Mom –

Well – I faltered. I couldn’t type late into the night last night. I passed out hard after 6 short nights. That is that. The natural consequence is that I type 2 entries today. One this morning. One tonight.

Yeah. The natural consequence in getting back on track is me trying to type and think while B (he’s 6) talks incessantly across the table from me. When he is not talking – he is making sound effects. The whole while – he moves back and forth from one end of the table to the other.  In this way – he is not much different than his 14 year old brother.  What is different?  He has been transcribing Lego catalogues off-and-on for 7 or 8 months now. He has 3 sheets of paper front and back (so 6 pages total) taped together to make a long horizontal scroll. These pages are covered (20-25 sets per page) with every set he can find in the catalogues we have around the house. He calls it – get this – his “Christmas List.” This morning – he taped on a 4th sheet. My job is to dictate as he writes them. He hasn’t had this list out to work on in over a week. He sees me open the computer to type and immediately pulls out the list instead of turning on cartoons. It’s a game. I won’t offer cartoons – although I SO desperately want to. I’m to live in the moment, right? Appreciate this precious time of life, right? Yeah, yeah. I get all of that. But let’s get real – Right now? Right now I just want him to go turn on some Rescue Bots. Yep.

As I was typing that – he looked at me and asked if he could turn on some Rescue Bots. Guilt – like he read my mind – or at least my vibe. No winning here. I took a time out and snuggled him on the couch – just enough time to watch Blades make a daring rescue.

Well – we all made it through the first week of school. B’s multi-age class is going to be the perfect fit for him. He loves his teacher, and he is comfortable with his other 1st grade aged classmates. B is shy on the front end – always – no matter what the situation. We had no idea who the other same-age students would be – made me nervous – as he will spend the next 3 years with the same group. My worry was for not. I did pray for the best for all concerned on the front end. It seems that is what’s happening.

I try to remain hopeful and positive. It’s easier with B. He is a typical learner – actually a bit excellerated. This is a kid who started organizing his toast cubes at 9 months, wanting homework at the age of 3 ½ – painting still lifes and writing on his own at age 4. We got him a workbook and he blew through it. He started sounding out words and writing phonetically – on his own – no prompting from us. Reading came naturally for him in kindergarten. All of this to say it is much easier to trust the system when you know your child is self-motivated, organized and loves worksheets. This is so much different than my experience with E eight years ago, Mom. I still shake my head when I think about what I went through with E – and what I have continued to go through in his educational experience – with only short reprieves.

I am so happy that E’s first week in high school went well. He is so happy in Drama. This is a class that all of his IEP team in elementary felt he would excel in once in Junior High. He’s exuberant, funny and quite dramatic once he gets to know people. He’s shy and awkward (self-described) when he doesn’t.  I brought this up many times to the Junior High counselor and LRC teachers – all 3 years. I asked specifically if the Drama elective time could NOT overlap LRC classes EVERY year E would be there. I let them know that it wasn’t just for E – that Drama actually helps kids on the spectrum – socially. It also helps with an Aspie’s self-esteem.  I just wanted them to look at the bigger picture – considering there is quite the population of these kids in our community.

From Tony (the Asperger’s guru) Attwood’s book, The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome:

“Another option to help the adolescent who is sensitive to being publicly identified as having few friends and socially naïve is to adapt Drama classes…

Lianne Holliday Willey, in her book , Pretending to be Normal, describes how she improved her social skills by observation, imitation and acting (Willey 1999). This is an appropriate and effective strategy, especially in stage three of friendship development. The teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome can learn and practice aspects of adolescent interaction such as suitable conversation topics, the art of being a good listener, expressing affection for someone, and when and how much personal information to disclose. Drama activities can teach appropriate body language, facial expressions and tone of voice, and provide an opportunity for the young person with Asperger’s syndrome to act and rehearse reponses to specific situations, such as being teased.” ~Tony Attwood

The other piece for E, in particular, was the social interaction. I wanted him to be part of a group. He does not play team sports. He has no interest in competition – in any way, shape or form. He is in Boyscouts – but even there – clicks form. He’s not in one of them. Over this past year – especially this past summer – he is noticing that he has no one to just hang out with. To watch him come to realize this enough to express it is painful.

So – anyway – the request for Drama – at least one semester of it – fell on deaf ears every year. We were really disappointed. They suggested I have him audition for community productions. I explained that putting a kid with Asperger’s on the stage to audition was completely different than actually having a drama class (of which is not offered in our small community). I got no response. As a matter of fact – with each passing year – I got less and less of a response on anything I emailed or called about. I could go off on a tangent here – but I won’t.

I really am glad we all made it through this first week in such a good way.  B is golden.  E is happy.  I can’t help but hold fear as a back drop, though.  It’s not unfounded.

The thing that terrifies me about E’s happiness is the pattern of the past three years. I feel we were played. No. I don’t just feel we were played. WE WERE PLAYED.  I’m not talking Drama now.  I’m talking assistive tech.  Assistive tech he was trained on in elementary and was taken from him in middle school.  From the beginning – on through to the end of middle school. Here is the pattern. Teacher is nice, conversational, seems to have E’s best interest at heart. E and I happy – excited even. Teacher does not follow through. Sad. Dissappointed. Try to contact. We are ignored. Squeak louder. Response. School promises. Happy. More time passes. You realize there is no follow through. Disappointed. Squeak. Ignored. Squeak louder. Teacher says whatever she needs to. Doesn’t follow through. By then it’s the end of the school year. It’s time for the IEP meeting – they rush you through that. In doing so tell you that the thing that was on the IEP that you have been squeaking about? Well – they just don’t do that. AND – they are rude in doing it. She is no longer Mrs. Nice Guy. You get the feeling you are being looked at as the enemy for being persistent. You walk away thinking they have the right to do that – just say they “don’t do that.” You get info from respectable outside sources (quite by accident) that says they don’t get to just say they “don’t do that.” You bring that to their attention. They act like it was all just a big misunderstanding (because they have been caught) – and the cycle starts again for 7th grade. By 8th grade – as a parent – I was just pissed and expecting people to lie to me, avoid me and do whatever they had to do to skirt around me and the issue and not do whatever it was they didn’t want to do.  Yes, WE WERE PLAYED – and – unfortunately – E PAID THE PRICE.  I could go on. Might late tonight – because you know what? What I have to say is important. What I went through this last year? It’s important and might help another parent out there going through the same thing.

Our kids have rights. Our kids are not “less than.” The information and technology is there – to help our kids succeed in life.  There is a tech budget for our district.  A sizable one.  Special Ed kids have just as much of a right to that technology and a successful future as other kids. For these Aspie and/or dyslexic kids – it’s all there cognitively, and the resources are there for teachers to help them thrive. Do special ed teachers need training – to use the resources that are available to help kids with behavioral challenges and work with their dyslexia/dysgraphia? Yes. Do they need support in getting the training they need? Yes. At times – do we – as parents need to find help with behaviors outside of the school – in order to help our children function better in the classroom and – therefor – help with the teachers’ overall stress level? Yes. It’s not all on the teachers. There has to be a willingness on the parts of all parties involved. Student. Parent. Teacher. School. District.

There needs to be a paradigm shift around this. Eyes need to be opened. Hearts need to be opened. Communication needs to occur. In order to really help these kids – the teachers need to be open-minded to not just helping their “gifted” students. Because you know what? On the flip side of each of these Aspies’ and/or Dyslexics’ learning challenges – lies a gift. That gift – if honed – is what will make them a truly functioning member of society. Ignoring their gift and just pushing them through to graduation by saying that they know what they need to know – when they don’t – is not just dishonest. It’s actually cruel. It’s setting these kids up for a world of future hurt.

More on this subject later.

Dang – but I hope there is a shift this year – that we really are heading into a new era. I do.

I’m doing my part.  E’s doing his part.

I need to breathe and do the laundry.

It’s a hang-the-clothes-on-the-line kind of a day. 75. Sunny.  A nice breeze.

Have a great day sprinkling fairy dust – or lounging on clouds – or whatever it is you do all day.

I love you.

xo

Suz

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